The crime of vandalism involves the destruction of public or private property, against the will of the public or private property owners. Even the most awe-inspiring artwork painted on the side of a building is considered a criminal offense if it wasn't authorized. Some states even prohibit the possession of certain items commonly used to commit vandalism, such as a glass cutter or a can of spray paint. In some states, for instance, individuals under the age of 18 are prohibited from carrying spray paint in certain areas, such as school property. These offenses may even trigger parental civil liability for the actions of their minor children.
Under Maryland law, vandalism is referred to as "malicious destruction of property" and charged as a misdemeanor. Similar to most theft statutes, Maryland bases the charge and offense on the value of the property allegedly damaged by the defendant.
Maryland Malicious Destruction Laws at a Glance
The following table will help you learn more about Maryland's malicious destruction laws.
Maryland Code, Criminal Law, Title 6, Subtitle 1, Section 6-301, et seq.
|Statutory Definition of Malicious Destruction
To willfully and maliciously destroy, injure, or deface the real or personal property of another.
|Crime Classifications and Sentences
- Damage of less than $1,000: Misdemeanor; up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500
- Damage of $1,000 or more: Misdemeanor; up to 3 yrs. in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500
*The court may consider as one crime the aggregate value of damage to each property from one scheme or continuing course of conduct
The court shall order a person convicted of causing malicious destruction by an act of graffiti to pay restitution or perform community service or both.
Restitution also may be required for other acts of malicious destruction, as detailed in Title 11, Subsection 6 (see Criminal Procedure § 11-603 for details).
A person may not willfully throw, shoot, or propel a rock, brick, piece of iron, steel, or other similar metal, or a dangerous missile at or into a vehicle or other means of transportation that is occupied by an individual (misdemeanor; up to 1 yr. in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
A person may not willfully tamper or interfere with the material, equipment, or facilities of an electric company; make a connection with an electrical conductor to use the electricity; or tamper with a meter used to register electricity consumed (misdemeanor; up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500).
A person may not wrongfully and maliciously damage, connect, disconnect, tap, or interfere or tamper with material, equipment, or facilities of a gas company (misdemeanor; up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $250).
A person may not wrongfully or maliciously connect, disconnect, tap, interfere or tamper with, or make a connection with water equipment that belongs to a utility company. It is also illegal to tamper with a meter used to register consumption of water (misdemeanor; up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500).
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Maryland Malicious Destruction Laws: Related Resources
Charged With Malicious Destruction? Get Help From a Maryland Attorney
Depending on the cost of the damage, the willful and malicious destruction of another's personal property can land you in prison for a few years. But what may look like "malicious destruction" to observers may be an accident or otherwise a non-criminal act. Regardless, you'll want legal representation if you have been charged. Protect your interests and reach out to a Maryland criminal defense attorney today.